That was 2020. I know i did. I took a couple weeks off. I feel amazing and i’m ready to get back at it. So today we’ve got the final retail copy of the panda bluetooth headphone from drop and thx. If you remember, i reviewed these way back in like january of 2019, but it was a pre release copy that i actually had to surrender when that review was over it’s. Not very often, i have to give something back when i’m done with it, and i wasn’t really happy to. I really enjoyed my time with those headphones, but i wanted to hit up drop and see if they’d send me out a final version, because it makes me nervous to sing the praises of like the very nice pre release, copies that they loan out to reviewers. And now, nearly like a calendar year later, when the final copy finally comes out, it gets in the hands of customers. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time here today, if you’re not familiar with these headphones so right off the rip i’ll tell you. These are geared for sound quality, not convenience features you’re, not going to find any active noise cancelling here if that’s something that’s important to you – and i have not heard the air pods max yet so i have no idea how they stack up in terms of sound Quality, we will talk about them versus the sony, xm4 and my actual daily bluetooth driver.
Most of the time. The airpods pro you ready. Let’S go Music, yo, i’m, brian p, you’re, watching bad seat tech and today we’re checking out the final retail copy of the bluetooth, panda headphone from drop and thx full transparency. They did send these out for review, but, as you should know, by now, doesn’t affect my review in any way, so the drop thx panda will run you ‘9 us with an optional inline mic for 49 bucks. Not only does that put it at the top of the price spectrum for bluetooth commuter headphones, but it also puts it next to some really dangerous competition. This is a very specific product aimed at a very specific market, so it foregoes a lot of convenience features in the name of audio quality over everything else. As i said, there is already a very detailed review of this headphone on the channel. I just rewatched it recently and it still pretty much nails my thoughts on this, so what i want to focus on today is did drop, deliver on the final version of this headphone. Build quality here feels very tank like, despite being mostly all plastic hinges, all feel good there’s, no creak there’s, no rattle anywhere on this. The tactility on the adjustment feels very good nice and firm. The matte plastic outer on these feels really tough. It does show a little bit of oil. The early samples that they sent out were some of the most polished pre release samples i’ve ever seen from anyone i’m happy to report that the fit the finish the build quality, and the final here feels really good.
The faux leather ear pads themselves here are still really comfy. I noticed that these have a better tendency to sit all the way around my ear than like the slightly smaller cups on the bare dynamic or the sony xm4s. They have a tendency to sit on my ear. I have big ears so long, wear comfort, really shouldn’t be a problem, but a lot of it really depends on your head and your ear size. The headband i have seen people take some issue with, even though i personally don’t find it uncomfortable at all, there’s, nothing plush here, there’s, no memory, foam or anything like that, it’s just a little bit of rubber with what feels like a little bit of air trapped Behind it to just give it a little bit of cushion, i do eventually start to get a hot spot here. It happens right where you think it would right up in the crown of your head, but it doesn’t usually happen for me until about the four hour mark versus headphones that have a tendency to sit right on the top of my ear cartilage. They start to bother me way earlier than that and really big head guys, you’re good. Here too, these things get absolutely enormous, so you dudes out there with like huge, massive orbital domes or like four plus five heads you’re good. Here i have no issues at all with these, in terms of like connection discovery, pairing, none of that no channel imbalance like one side’s not louder than the other.
These sound as clean as i remember, the thx amp in here is dead, quiet, there’s, no background hiss or anything these sound as balanced as i would want a headphone to sound without coming off as like, boring or sterile or analytic. If you want big low bass like sub bass, i’d – probably reach for the sonys, but i get so tired of the bass bloat on most of those commuter headsets that these are a real breath of fresh air. I’Ve really missed having these headphones and i have a lot of headphones. I feel like that’s, saying a lot again: there’s, no active noise, cancelling the passive isolation is fine, provided you have music playing if you’re looking for something to just drown out the outside world. So you can concentrate or meditate without listening to anything. You’Re. Definitely gon na want active noise canceling for that i’ve got this portable ac unit up here and while the pandas do a pretty good job of knocking it down a peg or two active noise, cancelling will all but completely remove it. From the background, i do actually use these to take calls on from time to time. I don’t really have anybody ever complain about the quality, because i think that if you’ve heard like one bluetooth, headset mic, you pretty much hurt them all. You kind of know what it is. I do also use the airpod pros up here, quite a bit as well. The only thing is i sleep in these, so sometimes like my inner ear just needs a break, so it’s really nice to have both an in ear and around the ear option.
I also do have like that really loud air conditioning unit that i keep up here. I’M going to pop that on in the background right now, so you can kind of hear what that sounds like so that’s kind of it by itself, and then, of course, this is what it would sound like if you’re actually trying to hold the conversation with a Lot of background noise going on, so i feel pretty safe in saying that you could wear these outside the house as a commuter headphone and still get use out of the mics if you needed to in comparison now, you’re hearing the mice on the airpods pro this Just kind of really drives home the point that, like if you’ve heard one bluetooth headset, you pretty much heard them all, and this is running directly into the voice recorder on my iphone as well. So if there is an opportunity for like some apple and apple magic, going on there behind the scenes, it’s not really written out for me in the final result, these don’t really sound incredible to me either – and here again is that ac running in the background. So you can get an idea of how well these are going to handle outside noise and now, just because i happen to have them. These are the internal mics on the sony, xm4, and i know i just got done saying like a bluetooth. Headset is a bluetooth. Headset, but for my money these have the best levels and overall, the best clarity keep in mind too.
I am recording all these directly into the iphone. There is no processing here whatsoever, i’m going to turn on this air conditioner again, so you can hear this okay, so that gives you an idea of what that baseline sounds like. I think these also do the best job of filtering out background noise. Like not only can i not hear that ac when i’m using the active noise cancelling here, but i think they do a really good job of filtering it out on the mic side as well. So drop also gives you the option of doing an additional wired boom mic for 49 bucks. That looks and sounds and functions a lot like a v moda boom pro. It has inline controls much better quality wise than any of the internal or wireless mic solutions, even though the levels aren’t as high as on the internal mics, it generally sounds pretty good more than adequate for a gaming mic and, of course, far superior to any of The internal wireless mic options we heard, which should come as a surprise, to no one, because unless it’s, just extremely poor quality, a wired mic is almost always going to sound better than a wireless mic. Unfortunately, the copy i received did come with the short in the lower portion of this cable here that greatly reduces the volume on the right channel. Doesn’T affect the mic performance at all, but, of course this is something that i would return or exchange no telling how widespread the qc issues are with these.
The upshot is that this allows you to use the panda as a gaming headset, if you want to, with the obvious downside, being it’s a wired mic, so you’re foregoing the wireless aspect of these headphones all together. That said, if you’ve got 400 hours to spend on wireless bluetooth headphones chances, are you already have a decent, dedicated pair at your desk, maybe even a dedicated pair for music or editing and a dedicated pair for gaming? These don’t make the greatest gaming headphones either because the sound stage is really tight. That’S about the only thing negative. I can say about the audio on these. As a quick side note here, i do get asked from time to time. If such and such bluetooth, wireless headphone makes a good gaming headphone, my answer is always no there’s too much latency involved to play anything serious with this. You might get away with like movie watching, but for gaming it’s a no go in addition to wireless. You can use these wired with the included 3.5 millimeter cable. These are surprisingly easy to drive. Like i wouldn’t say you need a dac amp for these, but their best performance wired is going to come with a dac amp because you’re not using the internal amp that’s inside here. You can also use these over the included usbc to usbc charging cable and it will take advantage of the internal amp there as for value, these are right up there in price.
So if you’re an apple fan – and you have this kind of money to spend on a wireless headphone chances are you’re just gon na grab the airpods max as soon as you can for everyone else. The horribly named sony wh 1000xm4, even at 350, bucks is probably going to be attractive, especially given their availability and return ability at a number of different stores over the holiday season. These were down to a ridiculously low 280 bucks. It was like an automatic buy. I mean i bought them just speaking objectively, they fold smaller they’re considerably lighter they have active noise cancellation, some of the best in the market. They’Re loaded with convenience features, including multi point connectivity and eq it’s all controlled by an app on your phone they’re kind of a low key flex because they have some recognizability. They do have gestures which i’m personally not a big fan of, but some people are. I personally don’t like that the ear pads have a tendency sometimes to sit on my ears versus around, but that’s personal and they’re, certainly not my favorite in terms of audio quality, but the panda is a different animal it’s, aimed specifically at the audio files. There has been an announcement that an eq app is forthcoming for the panda from drop, but nothing has materialized yet but, as i said in my original review, these just sound better than any other bluetooth, headphone i’ve heard thus far the sony xm4 has eq.
You can eq this thing all day and you’re still not going to get the detail and the clarity and the separation that you get out of the pin, i think for most people with regular human sized ears. The sony xm4 is probably going to take it in the comfort department, but i do like the nondescript look of the panda and the passive isolation does work well enough to use them as commuter phones, even in a noisy environment, even listening to something like audiobooks the Trick is you just have to be listening to something so i’m happy to report the drop delivered on the final version of these headphones versus what i heard back in january of 19 and fell in love with. I love these every bit as much now as i did. Then these will stay in permanent rotation. I will keep the xm4s that i bought, but they’ll remain in house strictly for testing purposes. All that said, i totally concede that the drop panda is not going to fit the bill for everyone out there. These are aimed squarely at somebody who wants wireless bluetooth convenience and puts a premium on sound quality over everything else. For the vast majority of consumers out there, the sony xm4, particularly with its multi point connectivity, is going to easily be a safer recommend, as always links down in the description for everything that we talked about today. Any questions hit me in the comments and that’s it for this time.